Sticking a “For Sale” sign in the manicured lawn of their newly constructed cottage was a bold move for the Van Slykes. Factor in that the family was moving into a dated 1980s rancher, and some might say they were off their rockers. Not so, says designer and homeowner Erica Van Slyke. “I really felt like it was my calling to move into a fixer upper,” she says. Fast forward to today, and the once mauve walls, dark trim, and outdated border have been given a whole new life.
“I’m kind of a rebel when it comes to decorating,” Erica explains. “I know we’re not a coastal city, but that aesthetic is what I find soothing and uplifting.” Sticking with a coastal color scheme, Erica pops in rustic elements in an effort to keep the home appropriate with its East Tennessee surroundings. In the living room, accessories like sea glass and coral feel at home alongside a bearskin rug and a distressed wooden coffee table. Bright white couches and plush side chairs add an airy feel and are more kid-friendly than you might think. “The couches and chairs have slipcovers, so you can just take them off and throw them right in the washer,” says Erica. Glammed up with down-filled pillows, the couches can be customized for each season.
The high-arched ceilings in the living room, which Erica calls the heart of the house, were a selling point when buying. “It’s the room I saw the most potential in. I love the open concept and how it flows into the kitchen,” she says. Painting the wall a chameleon color, which appears light gray, subtly blue, or even white with the right direct light, helped breathe new life into the once stuck-in-the-’80s space. Mixing high-end pieces with heirloom and thrifted items helped to stay in budget through the remodel. Examples can be found on a built-in bookshelf, which was painted white and features turquoise bottles, framed art, and a vintage upcycled lantern.
Connected to the living room, the kitchen maintains an airy, seaside vibe but has its own distinct flair. Opting for white cabinetry and subway tile, Erica chose butcher block for the bar countertop to maintain a sense of warmth. “I didn’t want it to seem too sterile,” she explains. Natural woven bar chairs also contribute coziness. Other kitchen revamps include adding height to the cabinets to bring them to the ceiling, and whitewashing the existing brick around the oven. A fresh coat of paint – white on the cabinets and gray on the bar and island – helped to spruce up the space, while horizontal hardware adds a modern touch.
“I like to mix glam with organics and earthy textures.”
– Erica Van Slyke
Adjacent to the kitchen, the dining room serves as both eye candy and a place for the family and guests to have an intimate meal. “The dining room was the funkiest room to work with,” says Erica. “It was hunter green and had a border around the top.” To cheer up the space, a gray-blue color was chosen for the walls, and the ceiling was covered in white high-gloss beadboard and finished with molding for a coffered look. “I like to mix glam with organics and earthy textures,” Erica explains. That came through in the form of a Hollywood regency buffet table juxtaposed with distressed metal dining chairs. Capiz lamps, a chandelier, and a vase conjure a beach-like image, but are still at home among fur-draped chairs. A reclaimed wood table and a color-pop starburst mirror complete the room.
In the master bedroom, ample windows allow natural light to brighten the space. A linen-upholstered headboard anchors the room and is flanked by mismatched, but coordinating nightstands. “I didn’t want it to look like it came straight out of a showroom,” Erica says. The mirrored side tables tie back in with the Hollywood regency influence, while natural cotton quilts and bedding balance out the luxe look. An antique armchair passed down from Erica’s mother rests in the corner. It has been revamped with silver studs and velvet fabric to match the room’s curtains.
With access to the deck and mountain views, Erica says this room kept her calm among the chaos of moving in. Of the house as a whole, she says her family couldn’t have made a better choice. “I would come in here and look out the window and know I made the right choice,” she says. “I like the privacy, I like the views, and I like the layout with everything on one level. I love how unique the house is.”